Best Sugar Cookie Recipe For Decorating

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Royal Icing Decoration Method : Dipping

The BEST Vanilla Sugar Cookie Recipe – Stretch free, Swell free & PERFECT for Decorating

Taste of Home

The easiest way to decorate cookies with royal icing is to dip them. This method serves as a great base for all kinds of embellishments. And dipping cookies is just as easy as it sounds: Prep a thin royal icing, place it in a shallow bowl, then dip the top of your cutout cookies into the icingdone!

From here, you can set the cookies aside and let them dry completely or keep decorating while wet.

The Trick Is The Order Of Steps

Notice how I roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator? Thats my trick and you can see me doing it in the video tutorial above.

Let me explain why I do this. To prevent the cookies from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough right after you prepare it, then chill the rolled-out dough. Dont chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too cold and difficult to work with. I divide the dough in half before rolling it out and highly recommend you do the same. Smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable.

Another trick! Roll out the cookie dough directly on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper so you can easily transfer it to the refrigerator. Pick it up, put it on a baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator. If you dont have enough room for two baking sheets in your refrigerator, stack the pieces of rolled out dough on top of each other.

What Makes Soft Sugar Cookies So Soft

There are just a few tweaks that take sugar cookies from crisp to super soft. Just like all baked goods, these cookies are made with the same ingredients as other sugar cookies: butter, flour, sugar, egg, and baking powder, but in a slightly different ratio. That ratio is key for making them soft and pillowy.

Specifically, what makes these cookies incredibly soft is the amount of butter, which adds rich flavor, and the use of 2 eggs. Using more egg than your average sugar cookie, or shortbread recipe, makes these cookies have a tender bite. The cookies are made quickly in one bowl and bake for only 10 minutes, which means these cookies are a breeze to make.

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Easy Sugar Cookies Recipe

Everyone needs an Easy Sugar Cookies Recipe! These are literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious and our go-to sugar cookie dough. It is perfect for decorating Christmas sugar cookies.

We love festive holiday treats like melt-in-your-mouth Snowball Cookies, soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, and of course Baklava. These beautifully decorated sugar cookies are a beautiful addition to the Christmas cookie platter.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

My name is Natalya and I run a food blog Momsdish. I love simple dishes that use minimal ingredients. During the holidays, I love baking but I hate making messes. This recipe for sugar cookies gives me the best of both worlds perfect cookies and an easy clean-up. Im so excited to share this recipe with you!

I Chilled Cookie Dough But Now Its Hard As A Rock

The Best Sugar Cookies Recipe

After cookie dough is chilled it often become firm.

  • There is no need to panic.
  • Cut the cookie dough disk into quarters.
  • Microwave one ¼ of cookie dough on high for 5-7 seconds. It should be sufficient to soften the dough so you can roll it out. However, you dont want it to be super soft.
  • Cut up remaining quarters into smaller bits.
  • Place softened/microwaved 1/4 of the cookie dough onto the work surface, between 2 rolling guides. Place rolling pin on top of the rolling guides and roll out the cookie dough. Cut out cookies and transfer them onto a light colored baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Gather scraps and add one piece of chilled dough you set aside, re-roll and repeat.

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How To Frost Sugar Cookies

A sugar cookie is great on its own, but what Soft Sugar Cookies to the next level is frosting or the icing.

Made of powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter, this frosting is made specifically for super soft sugar cookies. It stays thick and malleable thanks to the butter, and this makes them perfect for swirling atop the cookies using a butter knife or offset spatula. After frosting, I top them with sprinkles. Optional? Yes. But just look at them and tell me if its really a choice!

Also, the frosting will set over time and harden on the outside but the inside will still be soft, perfectly complementing the texture of the cookie itself.

How To Prevent Sugar Cookies From Spreading:

There are many reasons sugar cookies could spread, here are a few and how to prevent them:

  • Bake cookies on parchment paper: Sometimes greasing a baking sheet can cause sugar cookies to spread. Instead, use parchment paper to prevent sticking and help the cookies keep their shape.
  • Don’t let the dough get warm. Notice the dough needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours. Keep the dough cold until you put the cookies in the oven.
  • Don’t overwork the dough. You can get two rounds of “rolling” from this sugar cookie recipe before the dough becomes warm and overworked. I usually do one round of cutouts, re-roll the scraps, and then use whatever is left to make a fun cookie for the kids .
  • Check your oven temperature. Get a cheap thermometer to be sure your oven is “really” 350 degrees F. Not all ovens heat to the temperature they display. Know your oven. If it’s baking lower than it’s set to it could cause the cookies to spread.
  • Use fresh ingredients. If your eggs or baking powder are not fresh the cookies could spread. Be sure to use fresh ingredients.

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Tips For Making Sugar Cookie Frosting

Ive never been a fan of royal icing. I never cared for the taste and always thought it was a pain to make, so last year I perfected a simple non-royal icing frosting.

It makes for a smooth and shiny, easy to work with icing that is almost impossible to mess up. If you find that its too thick when youve mixed all of your ingredients together, you can simply add more milk until the proper consistency is reached. Conversely, if your frosting is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar until its thickened.

I do recommend sifting your powdered sugar if you plan on piping your frosting. Sometimes powdered sugar has clumps in it that dont break up when youre mixing your ingredients together, and left unsifted these can clog your piping tips while youre decorating. There are few things as frustrating as trying to pry a pocket of sugar out of your piping tip so you dont have to dump out the whole bag and start over!


For a non-chocolate version, be sure to check out my classic sugar cookie recipe!

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How Do You Keep Sugar Cookies From Getting Crispy

The Best Sugar Cookies to Decorate with Royal Icing (No Spread!!)
  • Here are six ways to keep cookies soft.
  • You can use brown sugar to make cookies. Add two tablespoons of brown sugar to your recipe
  • Its time-tested to store cookies with bread, and you can thank your Grammy for this.
  • Make sure your cookies are under-baked.
  • Make mounds of cookie dough by placing it in a circle
  • Corn syrup is a good choice.
  • Airtight containers should be used to store them.
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    How Thick To Make The Icing

    If youve watched cookie decorating videos on youll notice there are usually two types of icing:

    • A thick icing is used to outline the shape
    • A thinner icing is used to fill the inside . If youre making fancy cookies, youll likely want both consistencies.

    I decorate cookies just for my family so, Im not looking for perfection and I usually make only one consistency.

    To get the right consistency. If it is too thick, add a little more milk . If its too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.

    You can test one cookie to make sure it doesnt run off the edges and holds its shape well enough but still spreads.

    Sugar Cookies: A Classic Holiday Cookie Tradition

    Decorating sugar cookies was a holiday tradition for my family growing up. My mom is not a baker but every Christmas shed get things ready to make Christmas cookies with my brother and I. These caramel clusters were made very year, along with cutout sugar cookies. Wed actually ice the cookies with a traditional buttercream, but I decided to use royal icing this time around.

    My mom actually gave me the cookie cutters we used to use a few years ago, figuring Id get more use out of them now. I used those cookie cutters for these cookies.

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    Cassies Protips For Perfect Cut

    • Sugar cookies are done when they are just BARELY brown and set up. Youre not looking for golden brown here. Youre looking for very slight color along the edges.
    • Let the cookies cool completely before icing. If not, the icing will run everywhere.
    • Thicker icing is easier to work with. Start with thicker icing at first, and then thin it out if needed.

    Royal Icing Decoration : Dipping And Swirling

    The Best Soft Sugar Cookies for Decorating

    Taste of Home

    Another super-easy way to decorate with royal icing is to try a wet-on-wet methodessentially piping more icing over icing with a wet finish. To do this, grab either a piping bag or decorating bottle filled with thinner, colored icing. You can pipe this frosting on in a twisty, turvy pattern. Then use a toothpick and swirl the colored and white icing together to create a marbled effect.

    Taste of Home

    Use this same technique to create swirls and a herringbone pattern. For swirls, just pipe on dots and run the toothpick through them. You can make heart shapes this way or an interesting spiral design. For the herringbone, pipe straight lines of frosting and run the toothpick through the lines perpendicularly. The techniques are very similar to the way you might put a swirl in a cheesecake.

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    Sugar Cookie Recipe Ingredients

    • Salted butter. Using butter gives these cookies the absolute best taste and texture! They literally melt in your mouth! I like using salted butter because it helps balance out the sweetness of these sugar cookies! You can use unsalted butter, you may just need to add a touch more sea salt!
    • Granulated sugar. I bake with organic cane sugar, but regular granulated sugar works perfectly! I do not recommend using brown sugar or many substitutions for the sugar in this recipe!
    • Vanilla extract. Please always use pure vanilla extract for the best results! You could substitute 1 tsp of the vanilla extract with another extract to give the sugar cookies a different flavor!
    • Eggs. Make sure your eggs are fresh and at room temperature! To get them to room temperature fast, simply put them in a bowl of warm water!
    • All-purpose flour. If your flour is a little lumpy you may want to sift it. You can use pastry flour or bread flour with great results as well! You could also use all-purpose gluten-free flour!

    Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

    These thick, soft, bakery-style Cut Out Sugar Cookies are a fun and festive addition to your Christmas cookie tray! Every mom should have an easy sugar cookie recipe that she can whip up in minutes with just a handful of simple ingredients. This is truly the best sugar cookie recipe ever! Cut out a batch and have fun decorating these sweet treats with your loved ones!

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    Whats The Best Icing For Iced Sugar Cookies

    There are really three kinds of sugar cookie icing youll see out there in the baking world. All three have their benefits:

    • Royal icing: This is the hard icing that you see people using to make intricate decorations on cookies . While this icing makes for beautiful cookies, I honestly find the flavor to benot great. So I tend to not use royal icing.
    • Buttercream frosting: Youll see this kind of fluffy, thick, buttery frosting more frequently on soft-baked Lofthouse style sugar cookies. Its delicious on these cookies, but it does tend to be tricky to stack on a cookie tray or pack in a gift tin.
    • Powdered sugar glaze: The sugar cookie icing were showing here and the one I use most frequently is a simple powdered sugar glaze. The resulting iced sugar cookies dry solid enough to stack on a cookie tray, but soft enough to bite into without chipping a tooth . Its easy to color, easy to flavor, and easy to work with. This sugar cookie icing will harden in 2-3 hours at room temperature .

    Make The Sugar Cookie Dough

    Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

    The first step in this sugar cookie recipe is making the dough, which is simple and completed in 5 minutes! Start by creaming the butter and sugar together. Then add eggs and vanilla and beat again. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature!

    I recommend using a standing mixer or hand-held mixer to make this sugar cookie recipe for the best results!

    Next, add dry ingredients and beat, starting on low speed and increasing to medium, until the dough forms. Please note, the dough at this stage will be soft and pliable. It may seem a touch too soft, but don’t be worried, after chilling it will be just perfect!

    The dough should not be “sticky.” I have gotten comments that the dough is sticky. This should NOT be the case. It should easily be formed into two round discs. If the dough is sticky it could be that your eggs were larger than normal and added more moisture to the dough. I recommend adding more flour 1 TBS at a time until the dough is soft but not sticky.

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  • WHATS THE CHALLENGE? Every month, a new recipe challenge will be announced: this months recipe is my Soft Sugar Cookies! Submit a comment or photo for a chance to win!
  • SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO: Make my Soft Sugar Cookies and submit your photo on this page. By submitting your photo, you get 2 entries.
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  • FIND OUT FIRST: Sign up for the Bigger Bolder Baking email newsletter to find out when a new challenge is announced!
  • Good luck, Bold Bakers! And I cant wait to see your Soft Sugar Cookies!
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    What Makes This Recipe The Best

    • The flavor is buttery and delicious
    • The dough doesnt need to be chilled before rolling and cutting out shapes, and they hold crisp edges when baked, so theyre great for all cookie cutters! The edges are crisp and sweet, and the centers are soft and chewy.

    Have I convinced you yet? Once you try my recipe, youll agree that these are the best sugar cookies ever!

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    Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies Why We Love Them

    You will love these cookies like we do, really. Heres why:

    • No need to soften the butter or bring it to room temperature.
    • The dough does not need to be chilled in the fridge.
    • These cookies are sturdy, but soft with slightly crisp edges.
    • They dont spread and do hold their shape.
    • The surface doesnt bubble or puff up, so theyre perfect for decorating.
    • Fantastic flavor even when theyre plain.
    • Freezer-friendly!

    Sugar Cookie Tips & Tools

    Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe (With Icing!)

    Before I leave you with the recipe, let me suggest some useful sugar cookie tools:

    • Cookie Sheets
    • Rolling Pin
    • Food Coloring: Liquid food coloring can alter the consistency of the icing, so I recommend gel food coloring. For the pictured cookies, I used a few drops of dusty rose and 1 drop of sky blue.
    • Piping Tips/Squeeze Bottle: If youre using royal icing, I recommend Wilton piping tip #4 for outlining and flooding. This is a wonderful basic piping tip to have in your collection. If youre using my easy glaze icing, I recommend using a squeeze bottle.
    • Piping Bag: If youre using royal icing and a piping tip, you need a disposable piping bag or reusable piping bag.

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    Tips For Making The Best Sugar Cookies

    • When cutting out your sugar cookies, make sure to keep your cuts as close together to get as many cookies out of your dough as possible. Re-roll any scraps so that you use all of your dough. Keep in mind that with each re-roll youre adding more flour into the dough, so you want to get as much as possible out of that first roll.
    • Bake cookies that are about the same size on the same baking sheet. Otherwise the small ones will burn and the large ones wont finish baking.
    • For thinner, crispy sugar cookies: Roll cookie dough thinner and look for the edges of the cookies to be beginning to turn golden brown to know that they are done.
    • For thicker, soft sugar cookies: Roll dough to about ¼, and watch for cookies to be just beginning to turn lightly golden around the edges. Let them cool completely on the cookie rack as they may break if you try to move them while theyre still warm.
    • When making the sugar cookie icing: Its hard to mess this one up, because if you make it too thin, just add more powdered sugar. If its too thick, just add more milk! Look for a consistency where the icing that drizzles off of the whisk holds its shape for several seconds before dissolving back into the icing bowl.

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